‘Doomsday Clock’: ‘Het is nu 2,5 minuut voor twaalf’ – Pleidooi voor meer kernenergie
30 januari 2017 – De wereld is dertig seconden dichter bij ‘Doomsday’. De ‘Doomsday Clock’ is nu op 2,5 minuut voor twaalf gezet, vooral vanwege klimaatverandering en de verspreiding van kernwapens. De ‘klok’ bestaat al 70 jaar en is een initiatief van een groep Amerikaanse (kern)geleerden. Zij pleiten voor meer kernenergie om klimaatverandering tegen te gaan.
De Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists heeft besloten de minutenwijzer van de Doomsday Clock 30 seconden vooruit te zetten, dichterbij Doomsday. Het is nu tweeënhalve minuut voor twaalf, nadat de afgelopen twee jaar de klok op drie minuten voor twaalf was blijven staan.
Eén van de redenen om de klok vooruit te zetten is ‘based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States’. ‘Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.’
‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high’
Uit de verantwoording van de stand van de klok in 2017
‘(…) Each year, the setting of the Doomsday Clock galvanizes a global debate about whether the planet is safer or more dangerous today than it was last year. (…)
To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: It is 30 seconds closer to midnight
Date: January 26, 2017
Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come e ectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change. (…)
[Na een passage over de toegenomen gevaren van de kernbewapening, gaat de verantwoording in op klimaatverandering:]
The climate change outlook was somewhat less dismal—but only somewhat. In the wake of the landmark Paris climate accord, the nations of the world have taken some actions to combat climate change, and global carbon dioxide emissions were essentially at in 2016, compared to the previous year. Still, they have not yet started to decrease; the world continues to warm. Keeping future temperatures at less-than-catastrophic levels requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions far beyond those agreed to in Paris—yet little appetite for additional cuts was in evidence at the November climate conference in Marrakech. (…)
Unless carbon dioxide emissions are dramatically reduced, global warming will threaten the future of humanity.
In 2016, however, the international community did not take the steps needed to begin the path toward a net zero-carbon-emissions world. (…)
International leaders need to refocus their attention on achieving the additional carbon emission reductions that are needed to capitalize on the promise of the Paris Accord. In the United States, as a very first step, the Trump administration needs to make a clear, unequivocal statement that it accepts climate change, caused by human activity, as a scientific reality. No problem can be solved, unless its existence is recognized. (…)’
For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s. In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.” In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way. (…)’
Pleidooi voor kernenergie
In hun verantwoording bepleiten de kerngeleerden meer aandacht voor de mogelijkheden van kernenergie:
‘(…) Ironically, the nuclear forces used in weapons of mass destruction can also be harnessed as a carbon-free source of energy. Splitting the atom provides a million-fold increase in energy over the simple chemical reactions that convert fossil fuels to carbon dioxide and energy. The scale of the energy potential of nuclear fission—and its capacity to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—make nuclear power a tempting part of the solution to the climate change problem. Some 440 nuclear power plants already generate 11 percent of the world’s electricity.
In addition to its promise, however, nuclear power has safety, cost, waste, and proliferation challenges. One can argue that the number of deaths and adverse health e ects caused by nuclear power has been minimal, even when major accidents have occurred. But a single accident can change governmental policy and public attitudes toward nuclear power. That single accident can also a ect multiple countries and produce e ects that stretch over decades—as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters have shown.
Although new nuclear power plants are being built, mainly in Asia, the scale of the e ort does not match the need for clean energy. Today’s 400-plus nuclear power plants are, on average, 30 years old. They displace some 0.5 to 0.7 gigatons of carbon each year, as compared to the 10 gigatons discharged annually from the use of fossil fuels.
To achieve just 6 percent of needed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power would have to increase in capacity at least threefold during the next 50 years. This would mean adding 2,000 megawatts of capacity per month, the equivalent of a new 1 gigawatt-electric nuclear power plant every several weeks. Such growth in the use of nuclear power would also require concomitant commitments to nuclear safety, security, and waste management that are politically, technically, and intergenerationally responsible.
In the short and medium terms, governments will need to discourage the premature closure of existing reactors that are—as determined on a case-by-case basis— safe and economically viable. In the longer term, entrepreneurs will have to design and test new types of reactors that can be built quickly, and they will then have to prove to regulators that those new reactors are at least as safe as the commercial nuclear plants now operating. (…)’
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26 januari 2017: 2017 Doomsday Clock Statement (pdf, 16 pag.)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26 januari 2017: Doomsday Dashboard
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, persbericht, 25 januari 2017: It is now two and a half minutes to midnight
Illustratie: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists